This section is from the book "Myths And Folk-Tales Of The Russians, Western Slavs, And Magyars", by Jeremiah Curtin. Also available from Amazon: Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs, and the Magyars.
The bride remained alone; she took the lamp and turned straight to the cellar. The great iron doors opened before her and closed behind. When she had passed the seven iron doors and entered the cellar, she spread her silk apron, and filled it with gold. Three times she returned, and three times she bore away the same amount, so that the apron was almost torn under it. Straightway she called the goldsmith and had the lead thresholds of three chambers gilded to the thickness of a hand. And as I say, the Lead Friend was so stingy that he did not eat bread enough, and every little coin he put seven l times between his teeth before he let it out of his hand once.
1 It is three in the text, but this is probably a mistake; so seven is put here to agree with p. 507.
The Lead Friend came home from his furnace towards evening, and saw the housekeeping, and saw also that now not one but three thresholds were gilded a hand's thickness. Here, 'pon my soul! the Lead Friend fell into such rage that he tore his own lead beard and hair out, and trampled them as he would tow. Then he roared so terribly that the lead house quivered, and turning to the princess he asked: "In the name of a hundred thousand devils, who did this?"
"I did it," answered the princess quite bravely.
"How didst thou dare to do this without my knowledge and consent?"
With that the Lead Friend seized the golden hair of the princess, which reached to her heels, and dragged her twelve times up and down the lead floor, twelve times did he hurl her against the floor, then he ran for the lead flail to kill her. Kiss Miklos would not let him do that, but seized the maiden from his hands, and placed her on the silken bed. The Green Daughter of the Green King was neither dead nor alive; she lay there still as a soulless block of wood. Still the princess felt no more pain than good myself. She knew witchcraft, and whatever she did or did not do, when the Lead Friend twisted her golden hair in his hand, she jumped out of her skin in a twinkle, and a devil got into it; if they had beaten him like a two-headed drum, or even more, he would have taken it as if they were fondling him.
Now the Lead Friend was terribly sorry; .ragged, with torn hair, he entered the white chamber weeping; he wept a long time; pushed the princess, who waked not; spoke to her, she heard not; at last he found this to say: "Wake up, my heart's beautiful love; all thy desires will be accomplished, only stop the gilding".
"I 'll stop the gilding, but tell where thy strength lies".
"Oh, my heart's beautiful love, I would rather part with my life than tell that".
Next day at sunrise the Lead Friend took Kiss Miklos to the furnace, lest while he was gone himself Miklos might go in secret and gather another man's hay. The bride was alone again, and wanted nothing better. Again she took the lamp and went straight to the cellar, where she opened her beautiful silk apron and filled it with gold, - took so much that the apron almost tore under it. She came seven times, and each time carried so much gold that her nose almost cut the earth, like the coulter of a plough. Then she called a goldsmith, and gilded to a hand's thickness the thresholds of seven rooms.
When the Lead Friend came home in the evening, he saw that not three but seven thresholds had a hand's thickness of gold on them. Then he fell into such a rage that he tore his leaden beard and hair, and trampled them as he would tow; but what good did that do him? - for he was trampling his own. Then he roared till the lead house rattled, and in his fury he asked: "A thousand million demons, who did this?"
"I did it," answered the princess all bravely.
"How didst thou dare to do this without my knowledge or command?"
With that he went in fury to the Green Daughter of the Green King, wound round his hand the golden hair which reached to her heels. Twelve times did he drag her over the leaden floor, twelve times did he dash her against it, twelve times did he raise her aloft, - and that was not enough; but he took out the lead flail, and began to thrash and beat the princess as if she were a bundle of wheat, so that she was swimming in blood. Kiss Miklos took her from his hands and placed her on the silken bed, where she lay, neither dead nor alive, still as a lifeless block.
Now the Lead Friend grew terribly sorry, and making himself squalid looking, he entered the white chamber, rushed to the princess, wept without ceasing, touched her but she woke not, spoke to her but she heard him not. At last he found this to say: "Wake up, my heart's beautiful love. I will tell where my strength lies. In the silken meadow under the seventh bush is a hare, under the tail of the hare an egg, in the egg a hornet, and in the hornet is hidden my strength, so that I live as long as the hornet lives; if the hornet dies, I die too".
The Green Daughter of the Green King heard all these words clearly, but acted as if she were neither dead nor alive, - lay there like a soulless block.
Well, 'pon my soul! what came of the affair or what did not, the princess rose from her silken bed in the night-time, quietly, in one garment; but she threw a great shawl around her neck, slipped out of the gate, found Kiss Miklos, to whom her word and speech was this: "Wake up, my heart's beautiful love, renowned Kiss Miklos, I know now where the strength of the Lead Friend lies; but listen to my word. In the silken meadow under the seventh bush lies a hare, under the hare's tail is an egg, in the egg a hornet, in the hornet is the Lead Friend's strength. If thou kill the hornet, the Lead Friend will lose his strength".
Our Miklos wanted nought else. He turned himself at once into a hound, drove the hare from the seventh bush of the silken meadow. The hare began to run, but the hound was not slow; with a long stick he struck the egg from the hare's tail. The egg broke and the hornet flew out, but the hound was not slow; with a great jump he caught the hornet, and crushed it to bits in his teeth. Then the hound shook himself and turned into Kiss Miklos again.